The coordination of H2 to a metal center via polarization of its σ bond electron density, known as a Kubas complex, is the means by which H2 chemisorbs at Ru4+ sites on the rutile RuO2(110) surface. This distortion of electron density off an interatomic axis is often described as a 'banana-bond.' We show that the Ru-H2 banana-bond can be destabilized and split using visible light. Photodesorption of H2 (or D2) is evident by mass spectrometry and scanning tunneling microscopy. From time-dependent density functional theory, the key optical excitation splitting the Ru-H2 complex involves an interband transition in RuO2 which effectively diminishes its Lewis acidity, thereby weakening the Kubas complex. Such excitations are not expected to affect adsorbates on RuO2 given its metallic properties. Therefore, this common thermal cocatalyst employed in photocatalysis is, itself, photoactive.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry